Sunday, November 1, 2015

Crete and Cyprus Holiday

The last two weeks in Crete and Cyprus were great.  The first stop was Heraklion, Crete.

What's left of the operations station

The last time I was in Crete was during my last assignment in the U.S. Air Force back in 1993.  Iraklion Air Station closed closed in 1994 so it was surreal seeing the remains.  Walking around what was left of the base felt like a scene from home zombie apocalypse movie.

This was the very end of the tourist season so it wasn't too crowded and it felt like we had the island to ourselves.  The weather was still nice which made for some well needed beach time.

When I lived in Greece before, I was able to get by with basic survival Greek.  A couple of times my Czech messed with me here.  In Czech, ne means "no" but in Greek nαί means "yes".  So a few times I told a local "yes" when I wanted to say "no".

After a relaxing time in Crete it was off to Cyprus.  My 55th country in just over 6 years.  Again, a nice relaxing time.  The biggest challenge was striking a balance between sightseeing and just laying out at the beach.  First world problems.

We enjoyed our time in Larnaca and visiting Nicosia, Pafos, Famagusta and the Kykkos Monastery.
The last divided capital in Europe

It was quite interesting visiting Northern Cyprus as well.  It seemed odd crossing between Turkish North Nicosia and the Greek southern side.

Things are so divided by ethnic lines but it seems to me that Greece and Turkey just keep fanning the flames.

At a North Cyprus police station
One thing that bothered me was the display of flags.  I mean it makes perfect sense in Cyprus, in the south, to fly the Cypriot flag.  And it makes sense in the north to fly the northern flag.  But no where on the island did I ever see a flag flown on its own.  In the south, the Cypriot flag is always flown next to a Greek flag.  And in the north, the flag is always flown next to a Turkish flag.

Larnaca Town Hall
For example, the Larnaca town hall displayed the Cypriot and EU flags but also the Greek flag.  What sense does it make for a town hall in one country to fly the flag of another country?  Continual divide along ethnic lines isn't going to bring about a united Cyprus any time soon.

Overall a great two-week holiday.  I wasn't ready to leave the sun and beach but it was time to get back to Czechland.  After visiting Cyprus I've now been to every country in Europe except for Belarus.  Hmmm...perhaps next year.

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